Secchi Smith & LDS_Waitrose West Ealing 1

Source: Secchi Smith & LDS

Local residents and councillors in west Ealing have criticised the buy to let development

The John Lewis Partnership is to launch a planning appeal in the hope of pushing through a decision on its plans to build 428 homes above a Waitrose supermarket in west Ealing, London.

On 11 June, JLP notified Ealing Council that it planned to lodge a non-determination appeal to the secretary of state, on the grounds that the council is yet to reach a decision on the partnership’s planning application for the site, which was submitted in June 2023.

JLP is hoping to build nearly 1,000 new homes by redeveloping two Waitrose stores in Bromley and west Ealing, and a former John Lewis warehouse in Reading, as part of a £500m joint venture with Abrdn signed in December 2022.

However, the plans have been heavily criticised by local residents and council members, who have expressed concerns over the height of the Ealing development in particular, as well as the number of affordable houses included in the development.

The current appeal relates solely to the progress of the west Ealing site and means application will now pass to a local planning inspector for approval.

“We have taken the decision to appeal for non-determination of our planning application to build new rental homes nearly one year on from first submitting it to Ealing Council,” said Katherine Russell, JLP director of build to rent.

“Our proposals will create hundreds of homes at a time when all political parties agree there’s a desperate need for more housing and local investment to spur economic growth, with a priority on brownfield land.

“An appeal is not something we take lightly. However, we believe we have strong grounds to be successful given the opportunity to transform an underused brownfield site close to the publicly funded Crossrail station with new homes and investment that will benefit the wider community.”

The Grocer understands the partnership is anticipating that the process could take up to “six months”. This would still remain on track with the original target to have begun construction on the site next year, with work to be completed in 2029.

“The council has consistently raised a number of concerns with this application and the applicant has previously been keen to extend time for determination while dialogue continued to see if those concerns could be addressed,” said a spokeswoman for Ealing Council.

“It is extremely disappointing that they now seem to have decided to appeal non-determination rather than wait for a local decision. Up until this morning our understanding was that they were considering amendments to address our concerns,” the spokeswoman added.

The application submitted by JLP includes 83 affordable homes within the development, the equivalent of 19.3%. However, it’s understood that Ealing Council wants the percentage to be nearer to around 35% – the number first specified by JLP when it announced it would submit the plans.

JLP now maintained that such a number would not be “commercially viable”.

The property plans form the first part of a strategy unveiled by outgoing chairman Sharon White in 2020 to ensure that 40% of the partnership’s income came from outside retail by 2030.

While White and partnership CEO Nish Kankiwala rolled back on that target during the unveiling of a rejigged strategy in February 2024, the partnership has said it remains committed to its plans to build buy to let property.